Halo Trust, which has a long history of demining in Afghanistan, announced on Feb. 15 that 14 out of the 16 districts in Herat are safe following the completion of 10-year-long clearance operations by the UK-funded organization.
“This is certainly great news for the people of Herat,” said a spokesman for the governor of Herat.
Talking to Arab News, he said: “The public’s concern has been addressed. We had a ceremony marking the announcement that there is no danger to the lives of people from landmines and unexploded ordinance in those areas.”
The official added: “Thousands of kilograms of (explosive) materials were removed and destroyed. If one kilogram could kill at least one person then the number of lives saved amounts to thousands.”
Abdul Latif Rahimi, a senior operational officer for the Halo Trust, said: “The remaining two remote districts of Gulran and Shindand have not been cleared yet because of poor security and presence of militants in the area.”
Before Halo Trust began its operations in 2008, Herat was among the provinces heavily infested by tens of thousands of landmines and unexploded ordnance including missiles and aircraft bombs — the legacy of 40 years of war — Rahimi said.
“We have cleared some 96 million square meters of area in Herat of 645,117 mines, bombs, rockets and bullets in the past 10 years,” he told Arab News.
Fortunately, given the huge area cleared, the Halo Trust lost none of its employees while unearthing the explosives, he said.
But it lost six of its staff in an abduction incident in the province.
Authorities in Herat said one of the cleared sites is being used to house tens of thousands of Afghan refugees.